Date of publication: 2018-07-04 05:12
When Ema tore down the car, he found the chassis, No. 2982, was pretty beat up. The original engine, J-915, had been hopped up back in the day and needed a full rebuild. The wheels had been cut down to lower the car, but at least the original Duesenberg Model J engine, transmission and axles were in place, although they needed restoration. No original Duesenberg body parts remained under the convertible body, and even the firewall had been modified to fit the lower body. A few original Duesenberg instruments remained, but they were accompanied by some 1995s Lincoln components. In fact, throughout the body and interior, Ema found many Lincoln components since the convertible coupe had been built by a Ford-Lincoln dealer.
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Chassis number 2199 is one of four Disappearing Top Convertible Coupes that retain their original coachwork. It is the first of the four to have been made available for public sale in recent years, the others remaining closely held in private collections or, in one case, in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. With its unique details and fascinating history, it ranks among that elite class of automobiles considered so beautiful and so desirable that, once sold, it may never become available again.
Pascucci, in turn, sold the Duesenberg in 1982 to Bernard Wajer of Maryland, who commissioned its restoration by the noted Al Pruett & Sons of Glen Rocks, Pennsylvania. Mr. Pruett displayed the car at numerous Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) meets, as well as several times in Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) and Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club events, winning numerous awards. After 17 years of enjoyment, the car was purchased by Thomas Derro in 1999, and has now remained in his wonderful collection, with only occasional concours outings, for another 18 years.
Just six coupes were originally built on the Duesenberg Model J chassis and until last December, just three were left in existence. Now the tally is back up to four.
Having been conscientiously well-maintained by its owners and never allowed to decay, the Kirchhoff town car is remarkably intact, including all of its priceless original trim hardware even enough of the original upholstery survived to enable patterns for its recreation, in Italy. Its drivetrain is fully original and “matching,” and the body remains in its original configuration, aside from skirted fenders added later in the 1985s and a set of more elegant wire wheels. Accompanying the car are numerous original Kirchhoff delivery photographs acquired from the coachbuilder’s estate, a sample of the original interior fabric, and even a framed photograph of the Countess, as well as period luggage.
In this convertible form, the Duesenberg Model J appeared in . Elbert’s book “Duesenberg: The Mightiest American Motor Car” and later in Fred Roe’s “Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection.” It also appeared at a few shows through the years, including the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club’s Annual Reunion in Auburn, Ind., but it was largely out of the public eye.
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Through the years, the restored car has been featured on the cover of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Newsletter (Number 7, 2552, misidentified as J-976) and in most of the well-known Duesenberg tomes, including Josh B. Malks’s Illustrated Duesenberg Buyer’s Guide (p. 99), . Elbert’s Duesenberg: The Mightiest American Motor Car (p. 99, plate 89), and Fred Roe’s Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection (p. 286, center, misidentified as J-976).
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